Budget 2018 – choices and priorities


Sir, – Would it not be simpler to just ban those huge tanks of sugary drinks and only permit the sale of 200ml to 500ml bottles? – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Can someone please advise Leo Varadkar that I will be having a lie-in tomorrow? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Last night, after seeing the personal taxation changes in yesterday’s budget, I went out and bought a lollipop to celebrate, which is as much as I can now additionally afford to splurge on.

I feel so jealous of those who can afford to buy six extra lollipops.

Could the Minister not have come up with a fairer scheme where all taxpayers would be able to buy the same amount of extra lollipops? – Yours, etc,



Co Carlow.

Sir, – A budget to keep the majority on side, hinting that a general election may happen sooner rather than later. And sure the poor and the homeless were never great Fine Gael supporters anyway! – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The mass of figures in the media as a result of the budget is confusing. But overall the Government is still spending more than we are paying in the various taxes.

What struck me most was that the gains from the budget for each of us were small. According to some critics, they would only buy a bottle of lemonade. And even that is a bit more expensive after the imposition of the sugar tax.

The whole thing seems a bit disappointing and unexciting.

We should remember, however, that the figures in the 2010 budget in comparison were much more spectacular.

That year’s budget figures showed that the Government spent €109 billion and only took in €54 billion. Decisions by powerful people in the years prior to 2010 meant that each of us, from the youngest to the oldest, was made responsible for nearly €12 million in overspending in that year.

While we will grumble about the lack of excitement in the present budget, we can do without the excitement of 2010 and hope that it does not recur. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – Following the recent publication of Ireland’s third National Cancer Strategy, one which prioritised cancer prevention, a number of measures contained within Budget 2018 are to be welcomed. Obesity is responsible for 800 cancers here every year. The introduction of the tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, while not a panacea, represents an important step in tackling this issue and protecting future generations. Similarly, the increase in the VAT rate on sunbeds will help to address the 10,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed here annually. The increase in the price of cigarettes is the latest in a series of measures which have seen smoking prevalence decrease substantially, the most pioneering of which was the introduction of the workplace smoking ban in 2004.

Our elected representatives now have an opportunity to bring forward similarly pioneering legislation in the form of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Every day in Ireland, at least three people are diagnosed with an alcohol-related cancer. We need to change our relationship with alcohol – the proposed Bill is a critical part of this much-needed transformation and its enactment will further demonstrate the commitment of the Oireachtas to the creation of a healthier Ireland. – Yours, etc,



National Cancer

Control Programme,

King’s Inns House,

Parnell Street,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – I am surprised that the Government continues to add pressure to an already overheating housing market with its budget announcements for 2018. Last year a “Help to Buy Scheme” was introduced which most commentators seem to agree put more money into the pockets of potential purchasers, helping to fuel house price inflation. Now to exacerbate the situation further, it is announced that there will be a 4 per cent increase in the stamp duty on commercial property, which obviously includes the sale and transfer of residential development sites. This increase to my mind will have two effects. First, it will be another expense that developers will have to seek funds for, from already reluctant banks, thus creating another impasse to improving the rate of house construction. Second, if and when the developer does get sufficient funds together to build houses, they will look to pass on this extra expense to the purchaser. Have we learnt nothing in the last 10 years? – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Are atheists entitled to the Christmas bonus? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.

Sir, – Squeezed middle? When one reaches a certain age, one actually appreciates the odd squeeze around the middle. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – In addition to allocating €750 million from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to help fund builders, the Minister for Finance has signalled that at least €1.5 billion will be transferred to a “rainy day” fund next year.

Does he not realise that the “rainy day” has already arrived in the form of major housing, health and transport investment crises? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.